Mass mediation of mental illness in sport

Kass Gibson, Paul Gorczynski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Purpose: This chapter outlines the paucity of media research attending to mental health and mental illness in sport. As such, the purpose of this chapter is to encourage critical reflection and further research on the mass mediation of mental illness in sport.

Design/Method/Approach: In the first part of the chapter, we review the extensive literature addressing the mass mediation of mental illness and mental health in order to provide key reference points for future scholarship. We then suggest to potential avenues for sociological study of this topic: Talcott Parson’s sick role and Guy Debord’s spectacle.

Findings: The authors find that the notion of the sick role provides insight into the assumptions underpinning athlete disclosure of mental illness as well as encouragement of help seeking behavior in relation to mental illness specifically. From a broader perspective on mental health, the authors identify a central challenge of the spectacular presentation of mental health and well-being and the lived experience.

Research Limitations/Implications: The central limitation of the field currently is the dearth of research. Similarly, in providing a broad overview of key considerations, this chapter does not undertake primary media analysis of mental illness in sport. Nonetheless, the authors outline key considerations and lines of inquiry for the field.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSport, Mental Illness, and Sociology
EditorsMichael Atkinson
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78743-469-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-78743-470-7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Sport
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
ISSN (Print)1476-2854


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